NEW YORK — For a fashion company, having the right address is akin to a young socialite having the right pair of shoes or handbag. Image is everything.
So when Abercrombie & Fitch signed a lease for a 17,000-square-foot space at 720 Fifth Avenue last week, it was more than just another retail real estate deal. It signifies the company’s entrance to the high-profile stage that is Fifth Avenue, where luxury firms and lately, more moderately priced brands go when they want to make a statement.
A&F is at a point when its U.S. mall store count is reaching its maximum. The brand is also trying to appeal to a slightly older customer and establish itself as an alternative or complement to higher-priced apparel offerings.
A flagship on Fifth Avenue marks a new strategy of moving into downtown locations.
“The concept of our business has been as a U.S.-based mall retailer and we’re saturating those locations for the brand,” said Mike Jeffries, A&F’s chairman and chief executive officer. “The A&F brand won’t grow domestically with 362 stores and we don’t want to open in less than A-list malls.
“We work hard to be placed with the right retailers in the mall,” Jeffries said. “That’s a part of our strategy. You strive to be next to the best in the mall in terms of price point.”
A&F has nabbed a prime location on Fifth Avenue, where it will take over the venerable Fendi boutique. A&F has hired Selldorf Architects to design the Fifth Avenue flagship. Jeffries had few details to disclose. He said the store’s inspiration will come from the architecture of the building itself, which was completed in 1952.
“We work very hard on our in-store environments,” he said. “The store will be a great representation of the A&F lifestyle.”
Jeffries sees the move as a natural progression. A&F views itself not as a lower-priced retailer, but as an aspirational brand for its target audience. “We think that’s why A&F is the perfect fit for Fifth Avenue,” he said.
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